Nissan, Toyota Both Working On Breakthrough Battery Technology


The search for breakthrough battery technology continues…

In two separate announcements made late last month, Nissan and Toyota revealed revealed that their both pursuing different technologies for the battery of the future.

According to Automotive News:

“Toyota is researching the use of magnesium, in place of lithium, as the base chemical for batteries that could appear in the next 20 years.”


“Nissan is looking at additives that will improve the performance and energy capacity of today’s lithium batteries.”

However, it wasn’t too long ago when Toyota was dead set on an “all solid battery” or what’s more commonly referred to as solid state. Perhaps solid state in out for now and magnesium is in?

Toyota: Development of next generation batteries

Toyota: Development of next generation batteries

Battery breakthroughs are few and far between, so Nissan’s push to advance the lithium-ion battery as far as it can possibly go is probably the more logical choice at this point in time.

According to Automotive News, Toyota claims magnesium has two distinct advantages over lithium.

1. It allows for denser energy storage.

2. It is safer than lithium, which is regarded as an unstable metal prone to fire risk.

However, Toyota openly admits that a magnesium battery may still be more than 20 years away from commercialization. So, not a lot of help there to the EV movement Toyota.

On the other hand, Nissan’s incremental lithium-ion improvements are right around the corner.

Automotive News states:

“Nissan’s idea is to improve the energy storage of lithium ion batteries by mixing in an additive called amorphous silicon monoxide. That chemical would allow batteries to hold more lithium ions, thereby improving the overall performance.”

“The challenge facing Nissan’s research engineers illustrates how complex future technologies will be: Until now, it has been difficult to figure out how to use amorphous silicon monoxide because there was no way of precisely determining its atomic structure. Nissan’s researchers resolved that by discovering a new way to analyze its atomic properties.”

So…almost ready to go, it seems. Nissan Senior Vice President Takao Asami, further confirmed thisalmost-ready status by stating:

“The invention of this new analysis method is essential to further develop the next generation of high-capacity lithium ion batteries.It will certainly become one of our core technologies.”

The search for a better battery will be never-ending, but as long as incremental improvements continue to be made, then electric cars advance forward, so it’s a win-win for us all.

Source: Automotive News

Categories: Nissan, Toyota

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63 Comments on "Nissan, Toyota Both Working On Breakthrough Battery Technology"

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When you don’t have a viable battery, you are force to look for breakthroughs because you cannot invest in gigafactory until you have a viable battery. Without a gigafactory you cannot be cost competive.


How exactly some “gigafactory” is going to help if you don’t have viable battery technology for mass market cars? You can buy NCA or NMC cells from number of Asian suppliers at marginal cost, no significant cost savings are possible after production reaches certain level. “Gigafactory” was a fantasy bubble to sell TSLA stock and bonds that have junk rating now. Its building is at around 14% planned space now and (surprise!) the current talk is that full size isn’t needed for 0.5 mln cars/year production anymore.


I have no idea if you are right, but I have to say I also found the complete lack of explanation for WHY only a tenth or so of the gigafactory is suddenly necessary mysterious. This was SO the key according to their previous narrative.

I suppose one could hope Tesla has come up with some incredible breakthroughs in the manufacturing of cells and that this explains the change of tune, but it doesn’t seem very likely. Especially when we also read about big battery shipments from Samsung SDI!


The Gigafactory is critical to Tesla because they want/need to control battery production. Companies like GM and Nissan feel good because they can ramp up production for EV’s way faster/higher than Tesla, but they still stand in the same lines with everyone else for LG and Panasonic batteries. Tesla won’t be standing in those lines, and when battery production starts to get strained by the limited suppliers Tesla will control their own supply. EV’s in the future will be limited by battery production.


Two points: First, this does not explain whe gigafactory is suddenly not needed for 500,000 Model 3s by 2018, whereas it was “critical” for 500,000 Model 3s by 2020. Second, this is a brand new narrative. Is it simnply your own speculation? If not, what’s your source? What Tesla themselves have been saying is that the Gigafactory was required in order to bring down costs.

Knut Erik Ballestad

It has been stated that the GF can produce at least the double amount of batteries per square foot compared to their original plans. This should not be mixed up with the fact that only 10-15% of the GF has been built as of today!


More Tesla Kool Aid 😉
Reality: As far as I understand Tesla has purchase contract with Panasonic and wasn’t able to meat required purchase quantities, and they need to meet them soon.
Panasonic has exclusive lease of Nevada factory space, it will keep it even if Tesla goes bankrupt. And it is free to sell to everybody, do really imagine they would be so stupid to drop all potential clients for Tesla only? Panasonic upstream chemistry suppliers are not exclusive either.

There are no production constrains, plenty of battery factories in the world, bigger than current Nevada factory. Cobalt supply may be real constrain as there no cobalt in the world to produce millions of cars per year. Half of cobalt is in Congo and Zambia that are not most politically stable regions in the world. And cobalt production can’t be increased, almost all of it is minor byproduct of copper and nickel production. Tesla has zero exclusivity for cobalt.


The cost of the gigafactory is not in the building. If you can cram the same equipment in a smaller building, you save little money.


zzzzzzzzzz continued his anti-Tesla FUD campaign:

“‘Gigafactory’ was a fantasy bubble to sell TSLA stock and bonds…”

Serial Tesla bashers like zzzzzzzzzz just hate, hate, HATE the Gigafactory, because Tesla’s high-profile capital investment of billions in future growth exposes all the FUDsters’ lies and insinuations about how Tesla is supposedly going bankrupt.

Go Tesla!


More examples of pathetic Tesla fanboys totally incapable of rational thinking, just hysterical cheer-leading and football match style screams.

Get Real

LMFAO, junk status best describes your pathetic anti-Tesla FUD here zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Tesla is on the brink of delivering more EVs then ALL the other laggard OEMs combined.

Unlike their almost universally weak compliance-cars, EVERY Tesla is a compelling EV fully capable of long-range travelling.

Of course hundreds of thousands of long-range BEVs will need massive amounts of batteries and that is why the Gigafactory #1 will by itself DOUBLE the world’s production of lithium batteries.


Why do you think Nissan hasn’t got a viable battery? What’s your source?

Jacked Beanstalk

Uh, this isn’t to disparage Tesla’s Gigafactory, but it isn’t all that unique. LG already has several automotive Li-ion battery factories around the world and can build them at competitive prices, as we’ve seen with the Bolt. And LG have manufacturing experience. As Tesla have demonstrated so well, there is no substitute for manufacturing experience when it comes to reliability.


LG’s hype about its market position makes Tesla’s hype about its cars look tame by comparison. In 2015 LG was #3 in global EV battery production, far behind Tesla’s supplier, Panasonic; and behind BYD, too.

Last year Panasonic produced 4.552 GWh of li-ion batteries, while LG Chem produced 1.432 GWh (source below).

Despite all the hype from LG, the Gigafactory is going to very swiftly put Panasonic much, much farther ahead, and much faster than LG is growing its production. Also, given the boom in EV sales in China, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if BYD is currently growing its production significantly faster than LG.



These statements are no more than a good entertainment topic for wide masses and some of the competition. I suspect what they’re both doing is sifting through some Nikola Tesla paperwork which contains more critical info than being publicly displayed. No way are Nissan & Toyota gonna let some funny bloke fool them around in a ludicruous mode. Nikola Tesla to be further researched, fine print below public statements.


Yup. Hundreds of companies and college/university research teams are working on improving battery tech. You could write a similar article about what any of them might do in 10 or 20 years.

Amorphous silicon might indeed be the next step forward in li-ion batteries, but the claim here about using magnesium instead of lithium appears to be rather unlikely; a very long shot at best.


Here’s a breakthrough battery technology: active cooling! That could be liquid, gas, or even a simple fan that normal Prius had which Leaf lacks.



I totally agree. I will not buy any EV without active cooling. My miles traveled per year makes leasing unfortunately unattractive.


So active cooling is good then? What’s your source?

I believe LiIon degrades from sitting around at high or low SoC. Unless I am going to use the energy in my pack to keep the pack cool when parked, I don’t think active cooling would help in most circumstances. It would however add cost, weight and maintenance.

What’s wrong in my understanding? And again, please provide a source. I trust your intentions but not necessarily your competence. 😉


I think you’ll find this educational.


I didn’t watched it all – when this Tesla guy (professor??) started talking about Leaf showing some LiFePO4 graph with 1.5C charge / 2.5C discharge rate I lost my patience. LiFePO4 has nothing to do with Leaf. Leaf uses completely different chemistry that had changed since that time to improve performance in heat and you don’t charge/discharge it at such rate daily. If you need 1.5C charge daily, battery car is not for you anyway, it gets too expensive.


A little background on the guy:
Professor Jeff Dahn and his team at Dalhousie University developed Coulombic Efficiency. This allowed battery technology to take a dramatic leap forward. Before CE, chemists would create a couple different chemistries that would have to be tested over a 6 to 9 month period to determine the outcome. With CE, they’ve come up with a reliable test methodology allowing for early indicators on battery tests in the 2 week time frame. This obviously allows for a massive compression in time and higher throughput in chemistries tested.

To TW’s query – heat is the enemy of Li batteries total lifecycle.


Active cooling is good for faster charging in South to get meaningful charging rate. May be not worth it in temperate climates for NMC chemistry.


All Nonsense aside, I wonder how much heaver the new Dense IDS 60 Kw Battery weighs in at, compared to the old 24kw..BTW ,,,Tesla is Not the Be all, End all..I like Musk/Tesla., He is Clever with Superior Intelligence…HOWEVER.., Let’s Not discount the competition totally!


Tesla has been doing the same thing – to some extent at least. That is, they say they’ve started to add small amounts of silicon to their batteries. Currently, because of this “atomic structure problem”, nobody knows how to do this without it leading to faster capacity loss (due to dendrite formation which pierces the barrier). It’s easy to dramatically increase the capacity by adding a lot of silicon, but it leads to a battery that degrades very fast and might even become dangerously unstable. What Tesla is doing is basically just to slightly increase capacity at the expense of slightly worse degradation, and that’s an option only because the pack is so big to begin with. What Nissan is doing potentially makes it possible to add lots of silicon without causing dendrite formation, which can increase energy density up to tenfold!


For another “breakthrough” battery news (not yet on insideevs) announced today google for “Swatch Geely Battery”.


The article says : magnesium is…
It is safer than lithium, which is regarded as an unstable metal prone to fire risk.


Another “breakthrough” FIRE : magnesium + water make a lot of destruction :

I am not sure that it is the idea of the year !

I’m sorry, but this exemplifies “public misunderstanding of science”. Magnesium is definitely a lot safer than lithium and also allows for higher volumetric energy density (specific energy, or energy density with respect to mass is actually worse than LiIon). The fact that magnesium reacts violently with water is quite irrelevant. At the very least, the safety challenges that this might present would have to be weighed against the safety advantages gained by a chemistry much less prone to catastrophic runaway than LiIon. As you may have registered, there have been a lot of instances where LiIon batteries in cell phones – we’re talking tiny fractions of a kWh – have exploded. These have often been cheap third-party batteries from China (as opposed to expensive original batteries also made in China!) but they clearly demonstrate the problems with LiIon. The theoretical (volumetric) energy density of secondary (rechargeable) magnesium cells is about five times as high as LiIon. In addition, the cells may be slightly cheaper to manufacture and easier to engineer because they are more stable. If I could replace my 24 kWh pack in the LEAF with a 125 kWh pack costing slightly less than the $5,500 Nissan wants to… Read more »

Magnesium energy density is less than lithium only if you compare metal electrodes. Today’s Li-Ion batteries do not use lithium metal electrodes, for safety and stability reasons they use LiCoO2 or some other metal oxide. The magnesium batteries proposed use straight metal and would have much higher energy density than current Li-Ion cells.

I don’t understand why so many seem to think Nissan has inferior batteries to anyone else. I am aware that a few people had a problem with the batteries in the early LEAFs, but even in Arizona I think these were only a small proportion of the cars. I’ve repeatedly asked for someone to please show me the data, but anecdote or even just repeating claims without a source appears to be the only thing anyone has to offer. So I repeat my wish: Please provide me with some data that supports the conclusion. In addition, Nissan like everyone else offers a battery warranty. The terms of these vary somewhat and aren’t always easily understood, but again, I’ve never seen anyone actually show how Nissans warranty is any worse than others. And I haven’t even seen anyone SUGGEST that Nissan hasn’t honored the warranty. Also worth noting is that when Nissan introduced the “lizard” battery pack (which, again, some commenters like to say is a piece of junk, without any data of course) they also extended the warranty from 5 years/60,000 miles to 8 years/100,000 miles. This warranty applies RETROACTIVELY to all LEAFs, including the 2011-12 model years. Although the… Read more »

Here’s an actual number: Leaf starts to slow down DCFC even at 60% while SparkEV with far smaller battery can charge to 80% without taper. If you think about the amount of heat generated from even 95% efficient DCFC that has nowhere to go, you get the idea why lack of active cooling is bad.

Even for regular driving, imagine a 1kW (about 8% at 60 MPH) space heater able to heat up a bathroom. In 90F+ degree heat, that 1kW will shoot up the temperature far above recommended operating levels. Granted, heat capacities are different, but the battery is far smaller volume than a bathroom.


Thanks. That makes perfect sense. However, it gives me no reason to think the LEAF battery should degrade any faster. At least not a pack that isn’t being fast-charged a lot of the time (taxis maybe?).

I shall revise my evaluation of active cooling as the fast-charging benefits may well be enough to justify it. But I still don’t understand the connection to degradation in hot climates, which was the context here.


The problem which has been reported for Leaf batteries is that they degrade if they get hot and stay hot for 24+ hours. The battery pack may get hot because of lead-footed driving with lots of acceleration, or from rapid charging. The problem with hot climates is that the ambient temperature may cause the pack to stay hot, never cooling down, even after 24 hours or more. Reportedly, it’s this extended exposure to high temperatures which causes significant premature battery aging.

And, Terawatt, I’m rather puzzled at your demand for evidence for this. This problem has been widely discussed for many years, and is well documented. There isn’t any rational reason to doubt this is true. Just Google, for example, [nissan leaf heat battery life] if you want to read lots more on the subject.


I forgot to comment on the 1 kW continuous. When the car is moving at 60 mph, air cooling shouldn’t be a problem.

Although perhaps an actively cooled pack can dispense with that? If so, it might enable lower Cd. But where then would the heat ultimately go??


Even if the battery box is completely exposed (which isn’t the case), a sealed box would be inadequate to cool cells in the middle. It would have temperature gradient and uneven wear. Unless you assume temperature below flash point is all the same wear (which isn’t true), sealed box like Leaf battery will have more wear, and lot more wear in hotter weather.

As for Cd affected while moving, passive will need to have far worse Cd to get equivalent cooling, as in exposing every cell to flowing air. Heat capacity of water is far greater, thus requiring less air exposure; besides, Leaf already has radiator to cool inverter, etc. And something like i3 (gas), iMiev / SoulEV (AC + fan), even Pruis (simple fan) do not require any extra hit on Cd.

Let’s face it; Leaf (and probably eGolf, too) screwed up with the battery by not considering use case other than optimal.


Sparky; I’ve not noticed any “slow down” in DCFC charging at 60%.

Where us your reference, please.


Leaf slow down is well known. From some observations, I saw them slowing down even at 40%, but test by some seem to show slowdown starting bit above 50%. I show few examples in my blog post “vs Nissan Leaf quick charge”

A Leaf owner did a measurement, and that’s in “Love letter to Nissan Leaf DCFC users”. Scroll down to bottom.


Read it all and it doesn’t say what you think it does. In fact it confirms getting to at least 80% is done in the nominal 30 min.
Don’t let your enthusiasm for your Spark over ride careful reading.


LOL. It’s his own blog, so if the words don’t mean what he thinks they mean, he meant to write something else! :p


You read it all, including the plot by Todd and Tom (both Leaf owners) that clearly shows that Leaf slows down after about 60%, yet you don’t think Leaf slows down charging after 60%? What did you read?

By your own “80% in 30 minutes” do the math. If it’s charging 50kW for 30 minutes, that should result in 25kWh, even more than 100% in Leaf, not just 80%. Clearly, there’s some slowdown going on far before 80%.


@ Terawatt

Idaho national laboratory did some Phoenix testing of Nissan batteries over a period of about 500 days up to 50,000 miles (and more, apparently). Batteries degraded by about 25% to 30% using capacitance testing. If you look at the range testing it was worse, … as much as 33% if you look at the 45 mph range test.

A link to an EVTV video segment where Jack apparently had access to a 63,000 mile data (same study) and it keeps getting worse 58/102 = 57% ,… so a 43% drop in range.
(67:50/98:05 into the video, Sept 18, 2015 Nissan Leaf Battery testing)

The way I understand it, just because an EV still has X amount of capacity left, that does not mean that it will be “useable” capacity. Acceleration drops off/ ability to hold high speeds drops off (?). Which is why (I think) you kind of hear that once the battery only hold 70% of its original capacity, it is probably done as being useful in an EV.

Charge to 80%, keep the car in Norway, …. ymmv


@ Terawatt

This study shows a comparison between the Tesla Roadster and the Nissan Leaf. Data for the Nissan Leaf shows a clear association of higher temperature = worse degradation. No clear pattern emerges with the roadster:

(Nissan LEAF Battery Capacity vs Miles Grouped By Average High Temperature)


I don’t think Roadster vs Leaf is a good comparison. Leaf would go through far more charge/discharge cycles than Roadster in given number of miles. In addition, Leaf would cycle to low depth, many of them on daily basis, while Roadster would hardly see such conditions.

I do think there’s correlation between life and temperature, just not sure how much and under what conditions. Better comparison would’ve been between Leaf (not cooled) and iMiev (active air cooled). I guess we’ll see in few years with eGolf (not cooled) vs SparkEV, i3, and SoulEV as well.


If we’re just talking Leaf to Leaf:

The driving patterns of INL’s test (Phoenix) and those of Steve Marsh (Seattle) are pretty similar.

The Seattle car was done at 141,000 (but milked to 150,000)

The Phoenix cars are done at 63,000.


As far as I understand Nissan extended warranty to early Leafs not because of goodness of their heart, but as a result of settlement in the class action lawsuit in the US, resulted from initial denial of warranty.
Certainly current Nissan capacity warranty (warranty, not degradation in practice) is better than Tesla’s, that has zero warranty on capacity degradation. But it is defined in “bars”, and it is up to Nissan to set “bar” meaning in their software. You may find numbers like this for these bars but who knows what Nissan will use next:
Bar 12: 85%
Bar 11: 78.75%
Bar 10: 72.5%
Bar 9: 66.25%
Bar 8: 60%
Bar 7: 53.75%
Bar 6: 47.5%
Bar 5: 41.25%
Bar 4: 35%
Warranty applies only when you reach 8 bars, and it is around 60% capacity of already low range car that gets even lower when you turn cabin heater on.

It is unlikely you will have this problem in Norway though, there is no such thing as heat there 😉


Although far from scientific proof, look at the chart on page 3 here.
To me, this at least some indication of how the Leaf handles hot climates.


There’s more to the Toyota magnesium-battery-breakthrough story than is reported in the article above, namely how the breakthrough came about. It’s ironic that Toyota’s magnesium battery breakthrough came from a Toyota hydrogen fuel cell researcher, Rana Mohtadi, who overheard colleagues, who were Toyota battery researchers, “discussing the challenges of developing a magnesium-friendly electrolyte. She realized that the properties of the hydrogen [solid state] storage material she’d been working with might be conducive to a magnesium-based battery.”

There have been calls on EV forums for Toyota to abandon its hydrogen research, but this magnesium battery breakthrough highlights that you never know where the next battery breakthrough will emanate from. It might come from the most unlikely of places (hydrogen research) or might be an accidental discovery resulting from nothing but plain old luck.

On a side note, it’s interesting that Toyota is actively researching solid-state hydrogen storage materials and not relying on 10,000 PSI storage tanks for hydrogen storage in the future.


I think that logic is flawed. Penicillin was discovered by sloppy research method, yet no one would advocate for such practice. If this so-called breakthrough is real, Hydrogen research deserves no more credit than dirty work bench.

I saw something on TV many centuries ago that some guy had a way to store lots of H in solid material. I think it was Platinum or some such, and they planned to reduce the price “soon”. Obviously, millenia of research didn’t do anything in that regard. This new Magnesium could be the same. Show me the car!

I refuse to believe in aliens until I’m digesting one, preferably slow cooked with some fava beans and a nice chianti.


Well, it was hardly an argument in favor of sloppy research methodology. 🙂 As a matter of historical record, Sven is doubtless right that breakthroughs OFTEN come from unrelated research. Viagra comes to mind!


I’m not disputing accidental discoveries, as many (most?) revolutionary ideas come from such accidents. What I am disputing is crediting whatever they were doing at the time for the accident, which Sven seem to allude to H research for battery breakthrough.


Actually, if you read my comment again, I just thought it was “ironic” that a hydrogen researcher discovered the apparent battery breakthrough. As I said, “you never know where the next battery breakthrough will emanate from.” This one came from happenstance, an H2 researcher “accidentally” overheard colleagues from the company’s battery research division talking about magnesium-based batteries and she gets that Eureka moment.

I wasn’t really trying to credit H2 research for the battery breakthrough, but at the same time if Toyota wasn’t doing H2 research this battery breakthrough would not have been discovered, and who knows how long before someone else would have eventually made the same discovery. If anything, I was implying that arm-chair quarterbacks who say a company should stop doing research in a particular area don’t always foresee the future practical, sometimes unexpected, results that the research can yield.


Irony was lost in translation, no doubt from iron deficiency. Is fava beans good source? 😉

George Bower


very interesting. thx for the links


Everybody would like to have something better than bulky high pressure tanks, so sure they do research. But it doesn’t mean this research will result in something suitable for production any time soon or at any time.
At least for the near future, these pressure tanks still have better specific energy than current lion batteries and better safety than gasoline tanks, and can replace full functionality of gas cars without any fundamental breakthroughs.


“There have been calls on EV forums for Toyota to abandon its hydrogen research, but this magnesium battery breakthrough highlights that you never know where the next battery breakthrough will emanate from.”

Yes, this is why basic research should be encouraged, supported, and subsidized by private donations and government grants. That’s why I have said that it’s that auto makers should continue to do R&D on fuel cell cars, and possibly even build prototypes.

But putting them into production, and even worse, using taxpayer dollars to build hydrogen fueling stations… that’s just ignoring the laws of physics, and ignoring the fact that hydrogen is just about the worst possible choice for fueling a car or truck.

Hydrogen is great as a fuel for booster rockets. Otherwise, not so much.


DOE funded Argonne Labs has been working on a 5 year project, JCESR, to develop Mg and Al batteries; they are 3 years into the project and so far they have not reported any success at the attempt.


I wonder if Toyota is just “recycling” their battery breakthrough story, … sounds like the same one from 5 years ago.

Show us a working, affordable, mass production cell, Toyota. Then we might have something to get excited about.


It is different although it is in the same field and it is not news that they are working in this field.

If you want a show now, go to a circus :/ Research takes decades and you will need more breakthroughs to think about production. E.g. a breakthrough for cathode is needed even if this electrolyte is finally perfect.



“I wonder if Toyota is just “recycling” their battery breakthrough story, … sounds like the same one from 5 years ago.”

Right. For years on the now-defunct TheEEStory forum, we used to read breathless gosh-wow reports of battery tech breakthroughs about once every two weeks or so.

About 99.99% of these reported battery breakthroughs never lead to any actual improvement in commercial batteries. So we should take all of these reports with more than just a pinch of salt. (I do hope amorphous silicon will be one of the very, very few exceptions… but that’s just a hope, very far from a certainty.)


…get a proof reader.


There is Toyota’s excuse to drop fuel cell vehicles. Hey everybody! We had a great battery breakthrough! So . . . uh . . . we are gonna put the fuel cell cars on back burner for now. (Never mind that it is just some incremental improvement.)


If Nissan already develop a 60 kw battery for the IDS concept car. They should just go ahead and incorporate this new battery pack in the 2017 Leaf. This capacity could give the Leaf around 200 mile range. They also need to redesigned the outer shell of the car, maybe using the same IDS look.

Stephen Hodges

I’d be happy with the blue one straight out of the advert. Even if the degradation were the same as mine, it would have plenty to go on.